Do people still get chickenpox? How to find out if you have varicella-zoster virus immunity

January 31, 2024

Depending on your age, you probably remember chickenpox—the itchy blisters, staying home from school and oatmeal baths.  


While many don’t hear about chickenpox anymore due to a highly successful vaccination program, the viral infection is still around. Read on to learn who’s most at risk and how you can check if you’re immune to chickenpox.


What is chickenpox?

Chickenpox or varicella-zoster virus (VZV) is a highly contagious viral infection that causes an itchy rash with fluid-filled blisters. And knowing your immunity status can empower you to take steps to avoid this infection. You can find out if you’re immune with Labcorp OnDemand’s Chickenpox Immunity Test, which detects antibodies to VZV.


Why don’t we hear about chickenpox as much anymore?

Chickenpox used to be extremely common in the United States before the chickenpox vaccine was introduced. Before the vaccine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported over 4 million cases annually, with 10,500-13,500 hospitalizations and 100-150 deaths. Children accounted for most cases and hospitalizations, but adults made up about half of the death toll. Vaccination has since caused a sharp decline to less than 150,000 cases yearly and far fewer hospitalizations and deaths. This demonstrates the chickenpox vaccine's success, though the virus still circulates and poses risks.


Who is most at risk for chickenpox infection?

Chickenpox can be serious or even life-threatening for some groups like:

  • Pregnant women
  • Newborns
  • Adolescents and adults: Chickenpox tends to be more severe in older children and adults than in young children
  • People with weakened immune systems


Why does my chickenpox immunity status matter?

Reasons to consider testing your immunity include:

  • Confirming immunity: When you’re unsure if you had chickenpox or were vaccinated and want to ensure you are protected
  • Meeting requirements: Some schools, colleges and workplaces require proof of chickenpox immunity if proof of vaccination is not available in the form of a shot record
  • Protecting vulnerable groups: Women who may become pregnant may want to ensure protection against VZV before they become pregnant because the vaccine cannot be given during pregnancy. Ensuring your immunity can also protect susceptible immunocompromised individuals in your home or community from exposure to VZV


Empower yourself by checking your immunity status. If the test shows you lack VZV antibodies, discuss vaccination with your healthcare provider. Find out if you’re immune by purchasing a Labcorp OnDemand Chickenpox Immunity Test. When you purchase an OnDemand test, you simply give a sample at a local patient service center and your results are delivered to your patient account.   


Chickenpox can strike at any age, so get tested to inform your health decisions.